New York University loaned its school president John Sexton $1,000,000 to finance his lavish vacation home on Fire Island, according to a report from The New York Times.
The Times describes the beach house as a “composition in bold, unadorned planes” that occupies three lots. Alternet.org points out a 2009 profile of Sexton in The Times, in which the NYU president calls his Fire Island residence a “rather large, wonderful house” where he spends most summer and fall weekends. Sexton currently receives an annual salary of nearly $1.5 million and stands to receive a $2.5 million bonus in 2015.
According to Alternet, NYU has acknowledged 168 real estate loans to its faculty and administrators, totaling an estimated $72 million to $96 million in outstanding funding. Sexton himself has access to two apartments in New York City funded by the university — one from his current position as president and one from his former position as dean of NYU’s law school, which he retains as his primary residence.
While it is common for colleges in expensive areas to attract top talent with loans for housing, funding for vacation homes is “all but unheard-of in higher education,” the Times says.
Former George Washington University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, a supporter of high salaries for professors, told the Times that vacation homes are “a little too sexy even for me”:
“I don’t mind paying someone a robust salary, but I think you have to be able to pass a red-face test,” Trachtenberg told the Times.
NYU has previously drawn attention for their massive building expansion plan, NYU 2031, which will likely cost the school billions. Critics argue that NYU’s spending on faculty and facilities is excessive, and ignores a major problem at the university — student debt. NYU alumni are consistently ranked among the graduates with the highest student loan debt in the country.
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